Troy Smith knows what it takes to be a successful, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at The Ohio State University. He also makes sure to take every opportunity to slam that team up north.
When asked about current Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, Smith told Cleveland.com, “I don’t want him to be a glorified Denard Robinson. I want to see him be a quarterback. I know he loves to be a quarterback, regardless if when he runs the football he looks like a superhero. I think he loves to throw the football, but that takes time.”
During Robinson’s career with the Michigan Wolverines, the quarterback was as much of a running threat as he was a passer, if not more so. Robinson was eventually drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars to serve as a hybrid running back/wide receiver.
Smith is concerned with Miller’s development as a passer and how effective the senior can be at the NFL level.
“With this spread offense, I think hopefully he gets a chance to understand what he really needs to do as a quarterback to still be a quarterback,” Smith said. “Sometimes, to me, when I watch Braxton, his athleticism is his downfall at times. He’s so athletic, he’s so fast, he’s so strong, I think he takes away, sometimes, from being that guy that can just understand and maintain that the pocket is your savior.
“I didn’t get the whole gist of what happened with Braxton and his shoulder, but to me, it’s a product of the hits over the years, possibly. I truly believe in his ability to throw the football, his decision making and I know he’s the guy to lead us to a national championship.”
While Smith had a tremendous career at Ohio State — he was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame Friday — he didn’t exactly have the type of professional career to critique Miller’s potential. Smith spent four uneventful seasons in the NFL as a backup quarterback with the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. He’s been a part of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes since 2013.
But Smith does have a point about Urban Meyer‘s offensive scheme. Previous quarterbacks under Meyer — Bowling Green’s Josh Harris, Utah’s Alex Smith and Florida’s Chris Leak and Tim Tebow — didn’t exactly make a big impact at the NFL level. Only Alex Smith is still in the league leading a team.
The key for Miller at this point in his career is getting healthy. The Ohio State quarterback required a second surgery on his throwing shoulder in August. Miller still has eight months before the 2015 NFL draft to get healthy and continue to work on his throwing mechanics and footwork in the pocket if he decides to leave Columbus.
The injury may have been exactly what Miller needed to improve in the areas Troy Smith identified.